Filmmaker Brad Bird has known his far share of success and disappointment at the box office, with such notable animated films as Incredibles 2 (box office opening record holder for animated feature) and The Iron Giant (which didn’t perform well at all when it first released).
He also has some strong opinions on former Head of Pixar John Lasseter, who was fired from the animation studio for misconduct and sexual harassment of female employees across several years.
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Bird revealed that he doesn’t put his ol pal Lasseter “in a category” with Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced media mogul accused of years of harassment and abuse:
“These times are not good for nuance. You’re either 100 percent for something or you’re 100 against something.
I don’t at all put John in a category with Weinstein. You’re navigating a world where men have acted a certain way for thousands of years. Way too late, but all of a sudden, they’re expected to change that on a dime and it’s necessary and it’s right. But it’s a little bit a gray area. It’s not as hard of a cut as people want to make it. I’m an old friend of John’s and I don’t see him in black and white. I see him as a person like anyone else. He was a person who was very protective of us at a time when we needed it. So my feelings are a little bit more complicated.
“It’s often like a pendulum. If people had been historically insensitive, the pendulum goes to hypersensitive. I understand where it came from and it’s fine. I just want to go to the other world where people don’t care about this kind of stuff so much. I just mean that once everybody has a fair shot, then it becomes about the work. That’s the place I want to get to. I don’t want people to be singled out because of whatever their particular slant is, or kept from opportunities because of it. I want a place where everybody gets to do everything and it’s now about the work.”
Bird also told a story of a time Lasseter went to bat for him; Lasseter standing up for Bird’s proposed animated feature project (Incredibles) that “sounded too much like Spy Kids” following the box office disappointment of The Iron Giant in 1999:
“John kind of flung his body between us and the executives and said I think these guys are onto something and let’s give them a little more time to develop it. By the time we finished our story reels, that guy was gone and the reels spoke for themselves. He stuck his neck out in a way that few in Hollywood are willing to.”
His next project will be an original movie musical that will feature 20 minutes of animation with music from Michael Giacchino. “We’re both equally frightened by it, which makes it very attractive to us,” Bird said.